Sgt. Blackstock honored for 36 years making a difference in Brunswick
Dec.30 – If it was just about being a cop that the good guys catch the bad guys, Roy Blackstock might have given it up a long time ago.
For Blackstock, his 36 years at the Brunswick Police Department are also about the bad guys he helped become good guys — or at least better guys.
He has often tensed when encountering a former opponent in public, just to be sure that his efforts to enforce the law have made a positive difference.
“I still meet people that I sadly brought with me to prison,” Blackstock told The News during his retirement ceremony on Thursday. “I see them coming, recognize them and wonder how this guy is going to take it. Then he puts out his hand and shakes mine and says, ‘I appreciate what you did to put me in prison. Because if you hadn’t, I’d be dead.”
“Arresting her changed her life. They were on the wrong path and I and they had to meet like this to change their lives. And I’m definitely glad it happened. It’s very satisfying.”
A very grateful group of law enforcement officers and Brunswick officials gathered at the Brunswick-Glynn County Library to thank Blackstock, 71, for his years of service to the department and the city she serves. The lunch was marked by a final call from a public safety dispatcher, transmitted by Blackstock over a police portable radio, while a crowd of more than 50 listened in respectful awe.
“You have been a mentor and hero for 36 years, and your selfless service will forever be honored and appreciated,” the dispatcher said. “At 12:30 p.m. December 29, 2022, you made it safely to the finish. Good luck and good luck.”
Experienced Brunswick Police Officer Capt. Wan Thorpe couldn’t help but laugh when asked about Blackstock’s contributions to the department over the years. Few are more knowledgeable than Blackstock, he said. But his stint in the city/county’s secret undercover drug squad has left him usually taciturn about what he knows, Thorpe joked.
“He has a wealth of knowledge but it’s hard to get anything out of him,” said Thorpe, who is approaching 32 with the force. “Everything is close to the hip. But seriously, he was a pleasure to work with. It really has.”
A Waycross native, Blackstock spent six years enforcing the law in Pierce County before coming here. And shortly after joining the city police force, Blackstock took a job with the international police force for almost a year. But a torn ligament in his knee sent him to the United States for surgery.
Blackstock asked a friend on the force to ask the boss about the chances of getting his old job back.
“The boss picked up the phone and said, ‘You start on Monday,'” Blackstock recalled. “That was on January 21, 1986. I’ve been here ever since.”
Blackstock has served the department in myriad ways, from investigator and undercover agent to patrol officer and traffic cop. He spent his last years overseeing the Department of Internal Affairs.
“Loyal and trustworthy, those are the words that come to mind when I think of Sgt. Blackstock,” Brunswick Police Chief Kevin Jones said. “I’ve always said that onboarding and promotions are my two favorite parts of this job. Seeing Sgt. Blackstock retire will be one of my least favorite assignments. He just meant so much to this department.”
So much so that former Brunswick Police Commissioner Jimmy Carter took the time to stop by and congratulate Blackstock on his years of service. Acting Glynn County Police Commissioner O’Neal Jackson III was also present.
“Congratulations,” Jackson said, holding out a hand to Blackstock. “I’ve worked myself for 25 years and I’m still in the game. I wanted to be here to honor your service.”
But it’s been easy to serve the people of Braunschweig over the years, Blackstock points out. That’s why the community grew on him. As for retirement, Blackstock is refining its trusty pickup truck in hopes of heading west for camping and quad bike adventures. And there could be a future move to the mountains of North Georgia after Ms. Beth retires.
In the meantime, he will have some very happy memories of the people he served in Brunswick, including the bad guys turned good guys.
“I’ve never encountered such a great group of people, especially the community,” Blackstock recalled. “I’ve had people I’ve arrested, or their mothers, or their sons.
“I could tell you a thousand war stories. But I’ve never had big problems with the people here because I’ve always tried to treat the people out there the way you would like to be treated.”